Trademark on the Verge Once Again

With a 2-0 lead in the Diamond Division Cycle 2 Grand Finals, [tdM]Trademark eSports is close to ending this month just like they started it—with a victory. The remainder of the Grand Finals will likely be played this week, and should tdM win it will be their third consecutive title in Heroes of Newerth, having conquered the DreamHack event and the first HoN Tour cycle. They are playing dominant eSports, just like their predecessors [coL]compLexityGaming.

Trademark eSports has one major advantage over their arch rivals from coL: the importance of the titles. In a way compLexity “only” won the Qualifiers that led up to the biggest HoN clash this year at DreamHack Winter 2021, but the main event was taken by Trademark.

Since then, the biggest tournament series that HoN has ever witnessed has been completely dominated by the boys from the north of Europe. With immense individual skill, a phenomenal coordination in teamfights and composure in critical situations paired with the stellar abilities of standouts like noobG (Carry), zai` (Suicide) and Mynuts (Drafting), they are currenlty an incredible force that has been sweeping Caldavar for almost 2 month now.

On top of all that success, they are picking against the grain and trying to get new heroes involved and introduced in the game. Lately they have been seen running Rally in certain packages and lineups. Before that they introduced Rally back to the game and they brought Zephyr out of the nest again, in addition to a small minor attempt to get Emerald Warden in the mix (sorry Mynuts, still love you!).

They also try to go against conventional wisdom every once in awhile when they attempt to play a hero outside of the designated role. The best example for that is Aluna, who those guys gave to noobG a couple of times to create a Carry Aluna for the Danish sensation. That, on top of unconventional “Trademark” (no pun intended) heroes like Corrupted Disciple or Wretched Hag make them an incredible threat in the drafting phase, in the laning phase and in the later stage of the game.

I could have shortened this and said: “These guys are extremely good in Heroes of Newerth!”

compLexity in Trouble?

They’ve gone from the dominant team to the formerly dominant team to one that derailed a little bit on the road to the Grand Finals lately. Now the big question is: What’s the problem?

I talked to one player from a Diamond Division team about the recent trend of compLexity, and he basically confirmed my thoughts, just in different words. From my point of view, I am not claiming to be an expert on the deeper elements of this game in any way, but I believe that it is a consistency issue.

Every time I watch some good old compLexity matches, they display two faces. They are either just rolling over their opponents, or they struggle in some shape or form. The problem right now is the up and down in their overall performance. Three or four month ago, at the peak of dominance, they had slip ups, bad teamfights and questionable decisions. They still have those, but the downs are occurring more often. Three months ago they would play one bad match but would ultimately squeeze out a win, then they’d return for the second match and just squash their opponents. They sent a message iin that second match: ”Don’t take us lightly, we might struggle on occasion, but we are still able to demolish you!”

That intimidation factor is gone right now. The aura of the undefeatable giant is totally destroyed after the recent losses to Trademark eSports. They seem downright vulnerable against any opponent. Shaky performances over [LION]Lions eSportsKlubb and [sG]Stay Green in the last cycle and a loss to stay Green in this cycle is painting a clear picture.

Still, I have to say compLexityGaming is the second best team in the game, just moving slightly in the wrong direction. The distance to the number one in tdM is widening, the cushion between them and sG is melting. They are no longer in a class of their own, but they are still very good.

Are they done for now? Most definitely not. They are still slightly above sG, as mentioned before, so they just have to surpass tdM once again. Remember they had their number a couple of months back; they can get back to that level, I am sure! Maybe a little bit more dedication, a little bit more practice, a little bit more study or theory crafting could give them the edge against their nemesis tdM. I am fairly certain that this rivalry will guide us through the entire first season of HoN Tour.

sG is coming

The last team of the triumvirate on top of the HoN scene is undeniably stay Green. They have played enormously consistent matches in the last couple of weeks, other than a disappointing DreamHack. Now they also seem to be doing what I wrote about two weeks ago: finding their roles, getting to know each other, getting in-sync. I used the analogy to the old compLexityGaming about one year ago, who acquired se`busca as a major free agent but struggled in the first weeks. (The struggles in those cases are at a very high level, by the way.) coL back then was finding their ways into the Semifinals of tournaments, but couldn’t close the deal for almost three weeks—now sG has compLexityGaming waiting for them as a mountain too high to climb.

This cycle now marks the successful taming of the mountain; they have overcome their personal nightmare—at least once. sG came close to a victory against the American organization last cycle, when they threw away the deciding match. This time they finished their business when they defeated coL in the Winner’s Bracket Semifinals.

I expect they are on a similar path as Trademark eSports. They just needed this initial burst, the success against their rival to set themselves free. I thought they would be able to beat compLexityGaming every time after that. The Consolation Final proved me wrong, but still the success marks a huge milestone for one of the best upcoming teams with established names.

Those names are starting to fit into the big picture of the team. They have settled in their roles, although I still think it was a weird transition to rotate basically every single player through different positions to find a perfect fit. I give swindlemelonzz and the team credit though for trying different things and not shying away from playing different roles for the greater good. For me this behavior shows dedication towards a goal—a Championship—not just playing for the sake of playing and to be the star of the team. I love that attitude, I love the team and I am wishing them the best of luck for the upcoming cycle.

A special shoutout goes to swindlemelonzz and his drafting, especially the drafting and the gameplan in game two against Trademark eSports. That kind of aggressive roaming and ganking earns you a spot in the heart of the fans very quickly, especially when most of the games are having under ten or fifteen kills as an average.

Worthy Winners

Another quick remark I wanted to make was about the HoNCast Awards that BreakyCPK, Tralfamadore and Milkfat gave away on Friday. I, personally, agree with almost every single award and winner that was crowned. A player like zai` really deserves the attention and the spotlight of those awards. His performance in Blackfade and now in Trademark eSports is just insanely brilliant. He constantly delivers big plays, he constantly gets into a good position on his suicide lanes and he is always a factor in the huge success of Trademark eSports.

All the other awards for Trademark eSports are deserved as well. Players like noobG and Mynuts as a drafter emerged in the scene this year, although Mynuts was already under center for the successful Lions squad that won the NASL.

[ORGE]Orange eSports deserves to be recognized for the awesome team that they are. Young teams like [aL]Absolute Legends and [myR]myRevenge are sparkling reminders of what is still to come in the scene and how much potential is still in the bottom and middle of the Diamond Division.

An award like CHEESEHELMET being the best and most entertaining streamer shows that anyone can rise up and it is not just the “Streaming Icons” like AngryTestie (RexxcarVroom) or MoonMeander who are getting the love and attention.

One thing I have to argue about though is the “Supporter of the Year” Award for Franzzii. I think Franzzii is the answer to several questions, but not the the question of “Supporter of the Year.” In my mind, Franzzii is the best supporter in the current phase of the game, but if you look at the entire body of work that the Supporters of this game have done this year, I would give the award to iNsania or split it.

If you just look at the results, iNsania’s teams have trumped Franzzii’s squads in the two biggest tournaments: DreamHack Summer and DreamHack Winter. On top of that, iNsania has a combined total of four ‘major’ titles this year, as opposed to Franzzii’s two. I think I would have actually split the vote, because both guys are just so close to each other in this category. I think you can make the argument for iNsania and he should be the one that gets the title, but I can also understand the rationale behind the decision of the big three: Milkfat, BreakyCPK and Tralfamadore.

Some guys might throw insults at me for that or whatever, but I also think that this case can be reversed and could be applied to “Carry of the Year.” When you go by strict numbers and accomplishments over the course of the year, not just the last couple of months, Haxxeren is the champion in my book. He was captain of a very strong Team It’s Gosu, he won the BYOC event and he has been a standout player for compLexityGaming since DreamHack Summer.

It is understandable that the results of the last couple of events and tournaments are freshest in the HoN community’s mind, but I believe that for these awards you should consider the accomplishments and achievements for an entire year. The nominations revealed that same principal in the “Team of the Year” category, when the disbanded was honored in that way. I am just throwing out my thoughts, possibly initiating a good conversation and debate over the holidays. Basically it is the old “Is Dan Marino one of the best QBs ever, despite not winning a Super Bowl Ring?” argument, applied to Heroes of Newerth.

It’s Christmas Time

Ladies and Gentleman, as you all have probably already figured out, it’s Christmas time. The season of giving and receiving, the season of reflection upon ourselves and the season in which you come together with your family and loved ones to celebrate.

In this special time I can’t dish out the usual Winners and Losers category in my column, as I feel that there are no Losers at Christmas time.

So just get through the Winner real quick and then enjoy the holiday season with everyone that you love.

The Winners of this week are arguably Trademark eSports, on the verge of winning a second consecutive HoN Tour Diamond Division Cycle. They have gathered several victories over the top teams of the world and their only loss in recent history was in the HoN Tour Qualifier Winner’s Bracket Semifinals. Since that loss they have gone on to win every single series in HoN Tour and at the DreamHack, except for two ties in the Group Stage.

The second winner of the week is stay Green, as they overcame their nemesis compLexityGaming in at least one series in the second cycle. They are getting better, they are showing improvement and they are one of the teams on my watchlist for a HoN Tour cycle victory in the New Year. The victory over coL brings us to the last winner of this week: compLexityGaming.

It sounds weird, but I proved last week that you can be a Winner and a Loser in a single week, so I can do what I want with this—as long as it makes at least a little bit of sense. compLexityGaming has done what I adore most in sports and eSports. They got back up after getting knocked down. They had some rough matches in HoN Tour over the last couple of weeks. They had some crushing losses against tdM and they had just lost to stay Green—everything seemed to be going against them—then they picked their moment to shine again.

They went through myRevenge, they defeated [357]QsQ and they even got their revenge over stay Green in the Consolation Final. It takes morale, pride, guts and confidence to bounce back after so many crucial loses in the last couple of weeks against a main rival. I applaud compLexity and every team member for this. The victory over stay Green should give them some more encouragement that they are still a tough team to beat and give them the strength to work themselves back into the mix to overcome Trademark eSports again next year. I can’t wait for it!

To close this column, I will bring in a little bit of consistency of my own. I wish you not only a great and cheerful time around your loved ones for the Christmas time, but also the greatest party or whatever you do for New Year’s Eve. I hope you enjoyed this regular column with my thoughts, I will be back for more next year – Cheerio, Miss Sophie!

- Sören "Fantasy"